Essay: the Crucible and Chaplin

Extended Response

‘An individual’s interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging’

             An individual’s sense of belonging is defined by ones interaction with others and the world around them, which manifests symbolically enriching or limiting their experiences. Belonging is an interwoven tapestry in human society which subsumes and circumscribes one’s internal perception of self. Similarly, Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and Richard Attenborough’s film Chaplin epitomize the tension between the individual and society, but also how a reflective life is essential for one who wishes to grow as a person and have a sense of individual worth. Both The Crucible and Chaplin draw on the strictures espoused during the McCarthy era and other historical events which render both Arthur Miller and Charlie Chaplin detached from the world around them and their interactions with others. The contradictory nature of belonging is explored as being both enriching and limiting – but above all an individual’s interaction with the world around them impacts on their opinion of self hood, consequently molding ones identity.   

Miller’s play The Crucible not only establishes a tension filled relationship between the individual and society, highlighting John Proctor’s plight for a sense of self, but also reveals parallels of modern issues for the United States in the early fifties. Even though The Crucible is set in seventeenth century America, Miller intended to comment on his own time. The communist scare of the 1950s was reflected through the representation of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692. As an audience, the historical period of McCarthyism can still be considered a modern issue. By making The Crucible an allegory for the Communist scare of the 1950s, we as responders ‘belong’ to the text through an understanding of the relationship between the individual and society, and that one must sometimes...